Across the globe, people are held in involuntary servitude in factories, farms, and homes; bought and sold in prostitution; and captured to serve as child soldiers. The International Labor Organization reports the number of people subjected to human trafficking last year was 20.9 million.
This number continues to grow because widespread access to hand-held devices and online technologies gives traffickers an unprecedented ability to reach an ever growing number of potential victims. However, government, anti-trafficking advocates, civil society groups and technology experts have the ability to leverage these tools to turn the tables on the traffickers.
President Obama stated, “we’re going to harness technology to stop them … [by] encouraging tech companies and advocates and law enforcement … to develop tools that our young people can use to stay safe online and on their smart phones.” (CGI Sept. 2012).
TechCamps are a platform to harness technology to fight the battle against human trafficking.
Two day, tightly curated ideation events, TechCamps seek to co-create innovative solutions, using low-cost, easy-to-implement technology, to the key problems that civil society groups encounter in their day to day work. NGOs and other civil society groups that work in the region and intimately know the challenges, are paired with technologists, both local and international, to design on-the-spot innovative tech solutions with immediate impact. TechCamp is about the implementation of low cost, easy to implement strategies and tools that will work right now, using the tools that are available in the region today. TechCamps are not traditional conferences, hackathons, unconferences, or training camps. There are no talking heads; there are no panel discussions; only applicable case studies of how technology has worked in other regions, interactive small
group brainstorming, and concrete tech-solutions that emerge at the end of two days.
To date, the U.S. Department of State has hosted 23 TechCamps, all over the globe, training 1400 civil society groups from over 90 countries. Each event is geared toward a unique topic: Open Government, Youth Empowerment, Social Inclusion, Internet Freedom, Education, Crime and Security, Disaster Response.
Human Trafficking has yet to be tackled, and given the immediate importance of this issue, this needs to change.
TechCamps target key NGOs and marry them with digital experts in areas such mapping, mobile, voice, data collection, and social media awareness to create real time solutions.